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Trade Center Set to Combat Middle Age

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Kristin Moore
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« on: April 10, 2011, 02:02:21 am »

(Page 2 of 2)

Others complain that the dimly lighted concourse is too difficult to get around, too packed with banks and too sparsely populated by restaurants. And it seems to pale in comparison to the Winter Garden, the spectacular glass atrium in the World Financial Center ringed with upscale shops and snappy restaurants.

"You come to the World Trade Center and you expect the concourse to be something fantastic, something you might find only in New York," said Keith Rakow, a translator at Daiichi Kangyo Bank, on Tower One's 48th floor. "Really, it has no more character than an old suburban mall."

Trade Center officials have already added some trendy tenants aimed squarely at young professionals -- among them a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop and the Tie Rack. More are on the way. And an effort is being made to turn some of the blander storefronts into bouquets of color and light. There is also serious talk of the food court, as well as construction to let in sunlight.

Of more pressing importance are the center's 250 elevators -- 99 are in each tower, with the rest spread among the Vista Hotel, the United States Customs House and three other office buildings. Known as the buildings' vertical transportation system, the elevators carry 50,000 center occupants and 70,000 visitors each day.

At the time the center opened, the elevators were considered revolutionary because they borrowed the concept of express and local service from mass transit. While they move quickly, once you get on, the elevators are notoriously slow to get to prospective passengers. "Tenants don't accept waiting times beyond 30 seconds," said Robert C. DiChiara, the general manager for program development for the center, who adds that the expectations are reasonable. An Efficiency Problem

The problem -- one of efficiency, not safety -- lies in the outdated electrical switches, housed in small closets around the complex, that act as elevator traffic cops. The solution, Mr. DiChiara said, would be replacing the switches with new microprocessors that reduce waiting time and give passengers a smoother ride. The Port Authority is seriously studying the option, Mr. DiChiara said.

Another problem is electricity. As tenants turn on thousands of computers, fax machines and photocopiers each morning, they are demanding more electrical power than planners ever imagined. For now there is enough electricity to go around, but center managers say the towers are rapidly approaching their limit.
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